A clinical validation protocol was created in an unprecedented way and in record time, that guaranteed that the devices developed in Chile include the necessary safety conditions to be used by COVID-19 patients.
In an effort to increase the number of mechanical ventilators available in the integrated national health network, in the face of the threat of their possible shortage, in late March, SOFOFA Hub launched the “Un Respiro para Chile” initiative, jointly with the CPC’s SiEmpre fund, CORFO and the Ministry of Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation. SocialLab and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) participated in the call.
A multidisciplinary committee of experts summoned by SOFOFA Hub evaluated 35 artificial ventilation prototypes presented by entrepreneurs, academic institutions, research centers, companies and the Armed Forces.
“This quadruple helix —business, state, academia, and civil society— collaboration was crucial. This is how the most innovative countries address society’s great challenges. This is currently known as purpose- or mission-oriented innovation,” says Eduardo Bitrán, former executive vice-president of CORFO and committee coordinator. “This approach could be applied to the Chilean economy’s sustainability challenges, after COVID-19, where climate action will be fundamentally relevant for the competitiveness of countries, regions, sectors and companies,” he explains.
Three prototypes advanced to the scaling stage: DTS, a technology supplier for Enaer and Famae; Asmar, which did not participate in the scaling stage; Unmanned, an alliance of three Valdivia-based companies –Allware, Unmanned and AndesVolt–; and VEMERS UC, of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.
A clinical validation protocol was created in an unprecedented way and in record time, jointly with Chile’s Public Health Institute, the Chilean Association for Intensive Medicine, the Anesthesiology Association of Chile and the Chilean Association for Emergency Medicine, that guaranteed that the devices developed in Chile include the necessary safety conditions to be used by COVID-19 patients.
The committee, in conjunction with the medical associations and participating universities, developed validation protocols using models that had been developed for similar purposes in Europe and the United States. The difference is that the official certification standard was adjusted in such cases.
“Chile is the only case in the world in which an unofficial high-standard validation system was generated. This is a remarkable achievement that must stand as a valuable milestone in the history of this pandemic,” says Eduardo Bitrán, Coordinator of the multidisciplinary Committee of experts.
This project, like others promoted by SOFOFA Hub, demonstrated that the private sector can efficiently fulfill an innovation coordination role. “We have seen the potential of linking the private-sector’s agility, the public-sector’s empowerment, academia’s knowledge, and entrepreneurship’s passion. We sometimes question the technology-development capabilities that exist in Chile, and this initiative has proven otherwise,” says Alan Garcia, executive director of SOFOFA Hub.